The touching tale of a beloved storybook staple, Mackenzie Johnston
The Life and Art of Lynley Dodd
January 31, 2023
The Life and Art of Lynley Dodd by Finlay Macdonald is a story about retaining childhood magic and joy. The book tells the history of Hairy Maclary author Lynley Dodd, examining her past to discover exactly how she created the book series that has been read and remembered by everyone as a beloved childhood tale.
Macdonald describes exactly why the Hairy Maclary book series is so iconic. He states that Lynley Dodd is able to tap into what she loved about books as a child, what appealed to her, and showcases that in her writing. “It’s about touching base with your own childhood,” he quotes.
Macdonald paints the picture of her unique childhood, where she lived as an only child with her two parents in a cottage in the woods.
Dodd says on the subject “Isolation became an early fact of life and memories from that time are coloured by the early awareness of the contrast between the big, wild, empty outdoors and our little family cocoon in the middle of it.” Macdonald tells the tale of how Dodd learned to amuse herself, creating stories and artwork that would later showcase itself in her books.
Macdonald tells the tale of how Dodd worked her way through art school, dreaming of where it might lead her. He tells how she originally dreamed of fashion design, but that the real clue to where her life would lead was to be found in her teaching degree, where she dreamed up an idea for a children’s book of a dachshund and a cat getting into a fight. But, he states, it would be ‘marriage and motherhood’ which would allow her to pursue her dream of art and develop her style.
Dodd went on to publish Hairy Maclary in 1983, winning the Margaret Mahy Award in 1999, and continuing to write further Hairy Maclary stories for years to come.
In his book, Macdonald details the complicated process that leads to a children’s bestseller, with added entertainment sprinkled throughout the story of illustrations showing both sketches and finished products.
This book is a touching tale of a beloved storybook character that has been a staple in many of our childhoods, and Finlay Macdonald’s rich storytelling voice brings to life the drawings and writings of Lynley Dodd.
The Life and Art of Lynley Dodd is a must-read for any New Zealander, with Macdonald creating a strong sense of nostalgia that will follow you long after you put down the book.
– Mackenzie lives in Hamilton.